France throws EU under bus as it threatens to SINK Aussie trade deal over submarine row

GB News panel savages Macron tantrum on Aukus deal

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Agreed on September 15, Australia’s deal with the UK and US focuses on development of nuclear-powered submarines. However, a condition for Australia signing onto the pact meant Canberra had to scrap a multi-billion dollar deal with France for 12 submarines.

In response to Australia ditching its nuclear deal with France, MEPs have said the EU trade deal with Canberra “cannot be concluded as it is”.

Mathilde Androuet, MEP for the right-wing Identity and Democracy party , issued a statement saying the Aukus deal was “particularly unfair and in favour of Washington”.

She noted Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, already claimed France had been treated in an “unacceptable manner” by Australia.

The MEP added Charles Michel, President of the European Council, perceived a “lack of loyalty” from the US towards France.

She also added Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said “the European Union will make efforts to conclude trade agreements with Australia” – despite the Aukus deal.

The MEP then said in her statement the EU and its institutions “must be a protective wall for the nations that compose it”.

She added: “Also, the free trade agreement that the European Union has been negotiating since 2018 according to Canberra’s wishes, cannot be completed as it is.

“To the regular complaints about these anti-ecological trade agreements and often contrary to the economic interests of European nations, we could add the recent disrespect of Australia with regard to France, a founding member of the European Union which is to assume its presidency shortly.

“It appears essential for France, as more generally for our European nations, to reaffirm the respect of contracts as a prerequisite for all trade relations with third countries.

“Otherwise, the image of Europe, already singularly damaged and threatened with downgrading in the face of rival powers, would only be further tarnished.”

In recent days, Jean-Pierre Thébault, France’s ambassador to Australia, told SBS French the decision to scrap the near-$90billion deal goes beyond a breach of a contract.

The ambassador described it as “treason in the making” to the broadcaster, and added the nature of the contract saw an exchange of “technology secrets”.

He added: “It was (really) a true relation of partnership, a true relation of confidence, of trust between two major countries in the Indo-Pacific.

“So it was something of a completely different nature than an ordinary contract.”

Scott Morrison in turn rejected any insinuation his Government had exploited military and intelligence secrets during the deal as “nonsense”.

The Australian Prime Minister told SBS News: “We were working in good faith in a contract, working together, paying our bills, too, by the way.

“And over the course of paying our bills in that contract and working, a lot of our people developed great skills. That’s great for Australia.”

The Prime Minister added Australia’s original deal with France “would have been terribly against Australia’s interests”, and said: “Of course, when you make a tough decision like that, it’s not going to be welcomed by the other party to the contract. I understand that.

“But we’re just going to have to persist through it, engage more. And I believe we’ll get there because ultimately we share the same principles, we share the same beliefs and we share the same goals.”

Mr Morrison added to SBS News Australia is a friend of France’s.

He said: “What’s important to me is that we get back to a normal relationship with France, and we get on with the work we were doing before – because the submarine contract was only one element of our relationship.

“France is a great partner in the Pacific. France is a great partner amongst Liberal democracies. We share values, we share an outlook and we want to be partners with France.”

Dan Tehan, Australian trade minister, has also downplayed fears the Aukus row would mean Canberra won’t get a trade deal with the EU.

He said: “It’s just very much business as usual when it comes to our negotiations on that free trade agreement.

“Everything points to the fact that it’s in both the European Union and Australia’s interests that we continue that FTA.”

Additional reporting from Maria Ortega

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